Invest in High-Tech

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Invest in High-Tech Ice Chest

For maximum insulation, the most reliable coolers use plastic formed by roto-molding—rotating heated material in a cast—which creates more durable material than an injection mold, whose corners and joints can falter. Orca, founded in 2012 by outdoor enthusiasts keen to make a superior ice chest, pairs this solid build with a padded stainless-steel handle, a lid gasket for an airtight seal, and, in newer models, LED lights that turn on when it’s opened. The 20-quart base model ($200) comes with a net attachment on the back for more storage and Orca’s trademark clasps, in the shape of a whale’s tail.

Summer Beach Bug

The Competition

• Yeti, the brand likely most familiar to choosy cooler consumers, makes a 35-quart, $250 chest. Manufactured in Thailand, the Tundra 35 comes with a dry basket and has two sturdy rope handles.
• California-based Pelican Products Inc. is known for a wide range of durable cases, despite their being injection-molded. Its $225 Elite Coolerholds 30 quarts, secures with latches, and has an integrated bottle opener and two cup holders.
• The Rovr RollR 45 costs $370 and has a 45-quart capacity, rugged wheels, a dry bin, and an extra bin that sits on top. Plus it has six spots for add-ons such as a cutting board and umbrella holder.

The Case

Orca’s chilling chops equal—and in some tests outdo—those of more-storied brands. Its 3-inch-thick insulation can keep food fresh for up to 10 days, and it’s the only brand that adds (for $150) a built-in, rechargeable battery-powered light, lending a fridgelike domesticity to outdoor adventures. The padded handle makes it easier for one person to carry it over sand, whether to claim a spot by the water or set up by the bonfire. $200;

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